The Facts About Managed Futures


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The factsheet provides a concise description of the function and benefits of managed futures, while also explaining some of the key differences between public and private pools. This resource explains the purpose of managed futures, their role for investors, how they are regulated, and what fees are charged and disclosed to investors.

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The Facts About Managed Futures

  1. 1. The Facts about Managed Futures WHAT ARE MANAGED FUTURES? • Managed futures are investments run by professional money managers, • Investors, including individuals, pension funds, foundations, and university who actively trade commodity interests using futures contracts, endowments have about $337 billion invested in managed futures. commodity options, and swaps. A manager uses these products to take Investors may invest in a managed futures strategy through a managed both long and short positions across some or all market sectors such as account, a commodity pool, or a managed futures mutual fund. fixed income, stock indices, currencies, and commodities, with the goal of maximizing returns from market cycles. WHAT ROLE DO THEY PLAY? • Managed futures strategies serve as diversification tools and are a valuable • During periods when stocks have underperformed, managed futures component of a broader investment portfolio. Generally, managed futures strategies have added diversity by outperforming stocks. During the crisis strategies have exhibited very low correlation to traditional investments.1 in 2008, for example, the compounded return for managed futures was a Businesses and commodity producers use futures, options and swaps positive 18.33%2 while the S&P 500 Index finished down, -37.00%3. markets for energy, metals and agricultural commodities such as oil, gold, During the “lost decade” of stocks, 2000 – 2009, managed futures earned soy and wheat to hedge their price and inflation risks. an annualized return of 6.76%, while the S&P suffered an annualized loss of -0.95%4 and the NASDAQ suffered an annualized loss of -5.67%5 ARE THEY REGULATED? • Yes, Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) and Commodity Pool Operators (CPOs) who advise or offer managed futures investment strategies are regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and National Futures Association (NFA) and are subject to quarterly regulatory reporting (e.g., Forms CPO-PQR, CTA-PR and Rule 2-46) and regulatory examinations or audits. Publicly offered funds are subject to extensive • Many CPOs that have privately-offered commodity pools are also registered as investment advisers with the SEC. • Retail or “public” commodity pools are regulated by the CFTC, NFA, SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and state regulators. They are among the most heavily regulated financial products. regulation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). WHAT FEES ARE CHARGED AND DISCLOSED TO INVESTORS? • Regulations require extensive disclosure of all costs at the time of the initial investment and periodically thereafter. Fees charged by managed futures funds are clearly and prominently disclosed in the funds’ disclosure document, as well as in monthly account statements received by investors. All performance reported by managed futures funds is required to be reported net of all fees and expenses. These disclosures are mandated by CFTC and NFA rules. • Privately-offered managed futures pools are actively managed by CPOs and/or CTAs and usually charge fees similar to hedge funds – typically, a pools are only available to sophisticated investors with substantial net worth and institutional investors such as pension funds and endowments.6 • Public managed futures pools are actively managed by CPOs and may carry fees higher than private pools because the start-up and operating costs are greater. CPOs of public pools rely on selling agents and financial advisors to provide retail investors with access and educate them on the strategy, costs, and risks of the investment. The costs of pools are also driven by transaction and exchange fees, advisor or sub-advisor fees and compliance costs resulting from multiple levels of regulation. 2% management fee and a 20% performance fee on any gains. These 1 For the period 1/1/2000 – 9/30/2013, the correlation between managed futures and the S&P 500 is - 0.11. For the same period, the correlation between managed futures and the NASDAQ is - 0.14. (Credit Suisse/Tremont Managed Futures Index to the S&P Total Return Index and NASDAQ Composite). 2 Credit Suisse/Tremont Managed Futures Index 3 S&P Total Return Index 4 S&P Total Return Index 5 NASDAQ Composite 6 CFTC definition of qualified eligible persons, SEC definition of accredited investor 600 14th Street, N.W. Suite 900 Washington, DC 20005 202.730.2600 | FOLLOW US